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Revolutionizing International Trade: UK SMEs' Gateway to Global Success


Lauren Miller

April 19, 2024 - 15:26 pm


Empowering UK SMEs: The Trade Facilitation Commission's Mission to Enhance Global Market Access

LONDON, April 19, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — There are currently around 30,000 UK-based companies that were exporting their goods in 2021 but have since ceased to do so. To combat this decline and bolster the efforts of the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the newly established Trade Facilitation Commission (TFC) is stepping up. The Commission's primary aim is to foster a revitalization of global trade activity among UK SMEs, which face significant challenges in the present climate—with less than 10% engaged in goods exports, a proportion of GB importers who are uncertain about their customs duty obligations, and nearly half encountering logistical hindrances and delays at ports.

Despite the numerous prospects for growth through international trade and mutual recognition agreements, many UK SMEs struggle with a myriad of obstacles. Complex regulations and limited resources serve as considerable barriers, severely restricting their capabilities to partake in and benefit from the global trade ecosystem.

"The Trade Facilitation Commission is committed to unlocking the global marketplace for UK SMEs," Lord Agnew, the Commission's Chairman, commented on this initiative. Affirming this sentiment, Robert Hardy, the co-vice Chairman of the TFC, said, "We are focused on breaking down the barriers, providing ample support, and equipping SMEs with the necessary tools and resources to succeed on the international stage."

The TFC has proposed an extensive suite of measures aimed at easing the process of international trade and providing the support SMEs urgently require, such as:

  • Streamlining trade procedures and removing bureaucratic red tape to make international commerce more accessible and efficient for SMEs.
  • Offering specialized assistance and guidance to SMEs, which includes access to crucial market intelligence, trade finance options, and comprehensive trade training programs.
  • Cultivating strong partnerships with key players such as government bodies, industry associations, and trade promotion organizations, all to synchronize endeavors and maximize their collective impact.
  • Making strategic use of technology to digitalize trade processes, thereby increasing transparency in trading operations and bolstering the global competitiveness of UK SMEs.

"By cultivating a trading environment that is conducive to business, we are doing more than empowering enterprises; we are driving forward the economic growth and prosperity of our nation," remarked Shanker Singham, a co-vice Chairman of the TFC.

This robust approach to facilitating trade underpins the TFC’s dedication to nurturing a supportive environment for trade activities and propelling economic growth across the board. By empowering UK SMEs to extend their global reach, the Commission seeks to unlock new opportunities for innovation and advancement, ultimately steering the country toward a broader horizon of success.

For more information about the Trade Facilitation Commission and its programs, visitors are encouraged to explore their website through this link:

About the Trade Facilitation Commission

The Trade Facilitation Commission (TFC) dedicates itself to the promotion of trade facilitation and staunchly supports SMEs within the UK. With a concentration on diminishing trade impediments, intensifying competitiveness, and nurturing economic development, the TFC collaborates extensively with stakeholders to streamline trade processes. This collaboration enables businesses to captivate international opportunities. Through advocacy, policy reform efforts, and capacity-building programs, the Commission is on a mission to establish a trade-friendly environment and contribute to sustainable development throughout the UK.

The Leadership Behind the Commission

The TFC's board comprises distinguished leaders in their respective fields, bringing together a wealth of expertise and experience:


Previously serving as the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office from 2020 to 2022, Lord Agnew was instrumental in overseeing border readiness in anticipation of the UK's transition out of the European Union.


As the founder and CEO of the EORI Group, Robert Hardy focuses on simplifying customs processes. His excellence in the field is marked by his recognition as the AIBF UK-Irish Business Person of the Year for 2023.


Shanker Singham is globally recognized as one of the leading authorities on international trade, competition, and regulatory reforms. Additionally, he holds the role of Co-Chair at the Growth Commission.


Lars Karlsson stands as the Global Head of Trade and Customs at Maersk. His prestigious background includes serving as the Director of the World Customs Organisation and as the Director General of Swedish customs.


Tony Smith's impressive career history includes being the former Director General of UK Border Force and Director of Borders Canada. His contributions to public service earned him a CBE for his crucial role in delivering the 2012 London Olympics and he currently chairs IBMATA (International Border Management and Technologies Association).


Drawing from his time as the Director of Customs Transformation at HMRC, Kevin Franklin is an Associate of the Cabinet Office infrastructure and projects authority.


Frank Dunsmuir leads the Digital Transformation team at IOE&IT and has been pivotal in multiple projects such as the Kenyan Single Trade Window, UK EcoSystem of Trust, Freeports, and collaborations with Europoort in the Netherlands.


Kevin Shakespeare is the Director of Strategic Projects and International Development at IOE&IT and also stands as the Dean of the UK Customs Academy.


Previously a senior advisor to Michael Gove MP on Brexit border readiness, Chris Salmon is a Co-Founder of clearBorder, a firm that specializes in trade training.

To view the logo of the Trade Facilitation Commission, please click on the following link: TFC Logo.

In conclusion, the Trade Facilitation Commission's creation and the unveiling of these new initiatives highlight an unwavering commitment to fostering a trade-supportive atmosphere and driving inclusive economic advancement. By enabling UK SMEs to expand their operations into global markets, the Commission aims to unlock myriad opportunities, spur innovation, and pilot the nation on a path toward greater prosperity and sustainable development. The collaborative effort among the distinguished commissioners ensures that the TFC's mission is bolstered by expertise and dedication, paving the way for UK SMEs to thrive in a competitive international landscape.